Most of our college based Tall Ferns and Tall Backs conclude regular season conference play this week. However three Tall Ferns are involved in championship action beginning on Friday (NZ time).
The West Coast Conference teams St Mary’s and Brigham Young Provo (BYU) take to the court at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
On the strength of edging St Mary’s Gaels for second spot in the regular season BYU benefit from the bye on Friday and will suit against the winners of the San Diego/Portland game on Saturday.
The 2017 WCC Defensive Player of the Year and All-WCC first team member Kalani Purcell will be a key player for the Cougars as her regular season numbers illustrate.
She led the conference with 2.7 steals per game and finished second with 1.5 blocked shots per game. The honour also highlights what has been another complete-game season by Purcell, the NCAA’s active leader in rebounds with 11.6 per game.
The senior forward contributed 13.1 points and 5.3 assists per contest and registered a league-best 10 double-doubles in 18 conference games.
Also named in the WCC first team was Stella Beck. She and St Mary’s Gaels face off against Santa Clara on Friday.
Beck has led St Mary’s in scoring nearly all season at 13.9 points per game, 14.2 in conference play. She’s posted double-figure scoring in 22 of 27 games played.
Beck boasts the best field-goal percentage in the entire conference at 55.6 percent and is among the WCC’s top-20 in scoring (eighth), rebounding (t-17th, 5.4 rpg), assists (12th, 3.2 apg) and steals (t-10th, 1.6 spg).
Penina Davidson and the University of California, Berkeley is also in championship mode but the Golden Bears have a tough draw in the Pac-12 tournament being held at KeyArena, Seattle.
Seeded 8th the Bears take on No 9 USC in the first round on Friday but the winners face top seed Oregon State 24 hours later.
Davidson starred with 17 points and 9 rebounds for Cal when the teams met in early February – Cal won 63-56.
Davidson has had a fine season averaging 5.7 rebounds per game (2nd best for Cal); she was also second in blocks (1.0 bpg) and averaged 7.1 points per outing during the regular season.